16 Mar 2018

Restaurant chain exploited, underpaid workers for years

1:39 pm on 16 March 2018

An Indian restaurant chain has been fined more than $40,000 after underpaying its workers by tens of thousands of dollars for years.

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Photo: 123RF

Satish Shetty and his two companies employ 120 staff at 22 Shamiana Cuisines of India restaurants throughout the country.

The companies have been fined for several employment law breaches including failing to pay minimum wages and holiday pay, and unpaid work trials.

The Labour Inspectorate said the complaints dated back to August 2015.

Despite paying back more than $24,000 to staff, Mr Shetty continued to breach employment laws, it said.

"The continuous nature of these breaches, despite remediation at the time, shows that Mr Shetty wasn't taking his obligations as an employer of 120 staff seriously," Labour Inspectorate regional manager David Milne said.

"It was surprising that even after several complaints to the inspectorate, Mr Shetty was not deterred from underpaying his staff.

"One of the breaches uncovered was for unpaid work trials for staff - a practise that's illegal under New Zealand employment law."

Employers should understand that the inspectorate followed up earlier non-compliance with a zero-tolerance approach and would seek additional strong penalties for ongoing non-compliance, he said.

"Not only is underpayment and mistreatment at the detriment of employees, it also gives companies an unfair commercial advantage over their law-abiding competitors," Mr Milne said.

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